OSHA Publishes Analysis on Severe Injuries Reported from 2015-2021

December 5, 2023
Jill Hyman Kaplan, Esq. and Brandon P. Matsnev, Esq.
MGKF Newsflash

As of January 1, 2015, employers must report to OSHA, within 24 hours after occurrence, an “in-patient hospitalization of one or more employees or an employee's amputation or an employee's loss of an eye, as a result of a work-related incident.” 29 C.F.R. § 1904.39(a)(2). Last week in “Severe Injury Report: A Seven Year Lookback,” OSHA compiled and analyzed all such reports received from 2015-2021 from employers covered by Federal OSHA (i.e., excluding employers in states with State Plans).

In the applicable seven-year period, OSHA received 56,696 severe injury reports (SIRs) for inpatient hospitalization, 18,559 SIRs for amputation, and 0 SIRs for loss of an eye. Pennsylvania employers reported an average of 14.2 SIRs per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. Of the 29 states covered by federal OSHA, this figure puts Pennsylvania in the middle of the spectrum. New Jersey employers reported an average of 6.8 SIRs per 100,000 FTE workers, putting New Jersey toward the lower end of the spectrum.

Employers in the Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction industry had the highest rate of SIRs per 100,000 FTE workers, followed by employers in the Manufacturing, Construction, and Utilities industries. The most frequently cited causes of severe injuries were falls, as well as body parts being caught in machinery.

OSHA specifically highlighted SIRs from hazardous heat. OSHA has increasingly turned its attention to this subject in recent years. In April 2022, OSHA established a National Emphasis Program on Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards, in which OSHA outlined a targeted enforcement program for hazardous heat. OSHA is also in the process of developing a national standard for hazardous heat, although the timeline for this standard is uncertain. From 2015 to 2021, OSHA received 1,743 heat-related SIRs, with Texas and Florida having the highest proportion of heat-related illness.

OSHA also highlighted SIRs from the Warehousing and Storage industry—another recent focus of OSHA, having established a National Emphasis Program on Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations in July of this year. From 2015 to 2021, OSHA received 1,336 SIRs, many of which involved a body part being caught between a vehicle (such as a forklift) and an object.

Finally, OSHA reported statistics regarding the percentage of SIRs that resulted in OSHA inspections. OSHA inspected an average of 33 percent of workplaces after the submission of a SIR, and it inspected 48 percent of workplaces that submitted an amputation-related SIR. Earlier this year, we published a Special Alert regarding OSHA’s plan to increase the number of inspectors over the next several years. The percentage of post-SIR inspections could increase as OSHA continues to bolster its ranks.